Liverpool have made Southampton striker Sadio Mane a prime summer transfer target in a £30m move.
Manager Jurgen Klopp wants the 24-year-old Senegalese to add to Liverpool’s attacking resources and is willing to make him one of the biggest signings in the club’s history to do it.
Liverpool and Southampton will continue to hold talks over a deal with the fee a potential sticking point. The Saints are likely to want around £40m for a player who scored 11 goals in 37 Premier League games last season.
This is around £10m more than the top end of Liverpool’s price range so there is still more negotiating to be done before any deal can be concluded. Southampton are also in the process of appointing a new manager after the departure of Ronald Koeman to Everton, which may also delay progress on the move.
Klopp was impressed by Mane, who was heavily linked with Manchester United during Louis van Gaal’s time at Old Trafford, when he scored twice as Southampton came from 2-0 down to beat Liverpool 3-2 at St Mary’s on 20 March.
Alongside England striker Daniel Sturridge and Belgium youngster Divock Origi, Mane would add pace and a goalscoring threat. Liverpool would be likely to seek to recoup much of the money by the sale of Christian Benteke, who struggled last season after his £32m switch from Aston Villa.
If he makes the move, Mane will be treading a well-worn path between Southampton and Liverpool. Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Nathaniel Clyne have all moved to Anfield since the summer of 2014.
It would give Saints a handsome profit on a player they bought from Salzburg for £10m two years ago and make him the third biggest signing in Liverpool’s history behind Benteke and Andy Carroll, who came from Newcastle United in a £35m deal.
Southampton have also sold midfield man Victor Wanyama to Tottenham for £11m at the start of what could be another summer of transition at St Mary’s.